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Scotland, prehistoric sites we have visited

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Scotland, prehistoric sites we have visited

A short introduction about (pre)historic monuments in Scotland
A stone circle near Beauly
A broch from the Iron Age, on the east coast of the Highlands
A group of barrows along the Nairn river
A restaurated tomb in Glen Urquhart
Stone circle with 8 tombcairns, Aberdeenshire
Broch at Glenelg, a fortress from the Iron Age
Recumbent stone circle in Aberdeenshire
Rows with small standing stone in the north of Scotland, Caithness
A recumbent stone circle and a cremation cemetery
A recumbent stone circle and a cremation cemetery stone circle in a garden, near Beauly
A Pictish memorial stone from around 800 AD
One of the earliest Pictish stones
A menhir on the grounds of Inveraray Castle
Stone circles in the Taymouth area
Several interesting links about Scottish prehistoric monuments


Scotland knows a long history and the early inhabitants were quite zealous in the building of structures; stone circles, graves and fortifications. Here we show a few pictures of prehistoric tombs and stone circles we have visited, but we haven't seen many yet. Therefore, we searched for more links to websites with more information and pictures of these monuments. But of course, we hope to add more sites and pictures of our own in the future. More information about the early history can be found on our history page.
The list is alphabetical.

Beauly stone circle

Steencirkel bij Beauly Steencirkel bij BeaulyThis stone circle lies hidden somewhere in a corner of a meadow, near Beauly, Inverness-shire. The owner of our hotel, Iain Campbell, showed it to us; we would never have found it ourselves and there was no sign with information.
The circle seems to be fairly complete, but is hidden by the vegetation. In the middle there is a pit, as if someone has done an excavation once. There is no sign with information and nobody could tell us more about this circle.
A reader sent us this website and this link.

Carn Liath

Carn Liath Carn LiathCarn Liath is one of the many hundreds of brochs (fortified places or forts) in Scotland. This one lies on the east coast near Golspie. Around the broch one can still see the remnants of the houses where people used to live. The broch itself was probably only used when there was a raid from the sea or a conflict with neighbouring tribes.
More information on undiscoveredscotland.co.uk.

Clava cairns

Clava Cairns Clava CairnsNear Culloden Battlefield (southeast of Inverness, Highlands) there are three burial mounds with stone circles around them. The monuments are supposed to have been build somewhere between 3.500 and 1.500 BC. but nothing is known about the people who build them. The area with cairns stretches out for a few kilometers along the river Nairn. At this place there are signs with clear information.
Clava Cairns Clava CairnsThere are 2 kinds of tombs here: one ring-cairn and two passage-cairns. The ring-cairn is closed; the passage-cairns have a narrow tunnel which leads to the central part of the tomb.
The tomb to the north-east (nearest to the car park) is a passage-cairn. There have been found remainders of cremated bodies as well as of buried people. The tomb is open to the sky now, but it used to have a ceiling.
Clava Cairns Clava CairnsIn the centre of the area is a ring-cairn without a passage to the central chamber. Here only remainders of cremated bodies have been found.
This tomb is not as high as the passage-cairns. Maybe the passage-cairns were used more often and were build somewhat higher to let people through. The lack of an entrance suggests that the ring-cairn was used only once or opened from above to add new ashes.
Clava Cairns Clava CairnsIn the southwest there is another passage-cairn. The stone circle around it is cut by the road and one stone is standing on the other side of the road.
Like in the other passage-cairn, there have been found remnants of burials.
Clava Cairns Clava CairnsOn some of the stones around the tombs you can see notches (cupmarks). But nobody knows if they have a special meaning. It is clear, though, they were put there by someone, but who can tell what the maker had in mind.
Clava CairnsOn visitscotland.com there is more information about these tombs.

Corriemony Chambered Cairns

Corrimony Cairn Corrimony CairnAt Corriemony (Glen Urquhart, west of Loch Ness) a burial mound can be found, with a stone circle around it. The monument was build about 3.000 BC.
Corrimony Cairn Corrimony CairnThe tomb has been excavated in 1952 and has been restaurated in such a way, that it clearly shows the original construction of the burial mound. A fence prevents the cattle from entering the place.
Corrimony Cairn Corrimony CairnThe tomb has an entrance to a central room through a low tunnel. The ceiling above the room has been left off (the top of the hill), so one gets a good idea how it looked like.
Corrimony CairnIn the burial chamber one body was found. This will probably ly in a museum but we don't know where.


Cullerlie CullerlieSmall, but perfectly formed, stone circle which encloses 8 small cairns, each ringed by kerbstones. These were used for cremated burials.
Cullerlie has been partially renovated and is a very impressive site with so many burial places in a small area.
CullerlieOn megalithic.co.uk there are more pictures of this stonecircle.

Dun Telve

Dun Telve Dun TelveOn the peninsula Glenelg are the remainders of two 2 brochs, fortresses from the Iron Age. The towers originally had a height of about 10 meters and would have had several floors. They were probably build to protect nearby settlements.
Dun Telve Dun TelveThere is only one small entrance which can be blocked easily by a big stone or defended by one man. Therefore, it was an effective construction to hold off raiders and protect a small group of people.
The walls are quite thick and a staircase is going up between the walls. The inner court has a diameter of about 8 meters.

Easter Aquhorthies

Easter Aquhorthies Easter AquhorthiesOne of many recumbent stone circles, which can only be found in England and Ireland. This one is located in Aberdeenshire, where there are more than 90 of these circles. They were probably made to indicate the dates of the seasons for agricultural reasons, but were connected to religion as well.
Easter Aquhorthies Easter AquhorthiesThis site was constructed by Neolithic farmers about 4,000 - 5,000 years ago and consists of eleven standing stones, the recumbent and two large slabs set at right angles to the recumbent.

Hill o' Many Stanes

Hill o' Many Stanes Hill o' Many StanesIn the north of Scotland there are several places with rows of standing stones, in a straight line in contrary to the stone circles. They are all about 4,000 years old. The meaning of these rows is unknown, but probably the place had some religious or ceremonial values. More information on stonepages.com.

Loanhead of Daviot

Loanhead of Daviot Loanhead of DaviotThis site comprises a recumbent stone circle and immediately to the south east a cremation cemetery. Although they stand side by side their erection was seperated by about 1,500 years. The stone circle was constructed about 5,000 years ago and the cemetery about 3,500 years ago.
With the passing years the usage of the site altered, probably when the society started to change after the appearance of bronze-working. Rather than being associated with the fertility of the earth and perhaps the community itself, the stone circle became linked with death, so it became a cemetery.

Lonbuie steencirkel

Lonbuie steencirkel Lonbuie steencirkelNear Beauly, we accidentally passed this stone circle in somebody's garden when we drove on a deadend. We couldn't find any more data about this stone circle and the owner wasn't home, so we couldn't ask him or her.

Maiden Stone

Maiden StoneThe Maiden stone is a slab of pink granite about 3.2m tall. The stone is about 1,200 years old (c. 800AD) and although much of its meaning is lost to a modern viewer it must have been of great significance to the contemporary population of the Garioch, the heart of the Pictish province of Mar. The Christian message on the stone's western face is mingled with the pre-Christian symbolism of the eastern face, perhaps the Picts (relatively new Christian converts) were hedging their bets!
The story tells that a fleeing woman (after a lost bet with the devil who was in disguise) was caught up by the devil. When she said a prayer god turned her into a stone but the devil had touched already her shoulder and that is the place where there is a piece of the stone missing.

Picardy Stone

Picardy StoneThe Picardy Stone was produced in the sixth or seventh century AD and is therfore one of the earliest of Pictish stone carvings in the area, representing a pre-Christian memorial pillar and the product of a pre-literate society. It still stands on its original site, a rarity for these Pictish stones, and is within clear view of Dunnideer hillfort, a Pictish stronghold that would have been the seat of a Pictish chief.

Standing Stone, Inveraray Castle

Standing Stone, Inveraray CastleOn the grounds of Inveraray Castle stands this menhir or standing stone. We have found some websites with 1 or 2 pictures, but nothing with more information. It is possible to see the stone to drive onto the castle's premises (without paying).

Stone circles in the Taymouth area near Fortingall

Stone circles in the Taymouth area near Fortingall Stone circles in the Taymouth area near FortingallIn the mouth of the river Tay there are many prehistoric sites, mainly Stone circles. We have come across a few, sometimes just in a meadow along the road, without any further explanation.
These stonecircels can be found near Fortingall where you can see also the (probably) oldest yew of Europe (4,000 years old) and Drummond Hill where queen Sybilla of Scotland was buried in the 13th century.

Interesting websites about prehistoric sites

Megalithic Portal: lots of links to other websites about stone circles, sites and archeology
Stones of Scotland: nice website with some brochs, cairns and stone circles
Britainexpress: clickable map with prehistoric sites
Destinations.co.uk: alphabetical list with prehistoric sites in Scotland
We used to have more links but a lot of private websites are offline. There are many more interesting websites about prehstoric Scotland, which all can be found easily with a search engines...

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